Friday, June 29, 2012

Pyjamas 'Til Lunchtime

The school bell has rung for the last time... well, at least for another three weeks for our family. School is out for the term break, and holidays are in. And in a Crabapple House tradition, we revert to our much-loved holiday mode... Pyjamas 'Til Lunchtime

And when winter mornings under feather doonas shift nearer to lunchtime, the teenagers of this household will emerge to make plans. They'll knock off some of their mandatory homework and fix times to catch up with friends to shoot some hoops. They'll turn on the x-box, Facebook chat their peeps and yell at the TV as their favourite footy stars miss goals and hit the post. They'll Instagram a photo of the massive egg and bacon feast they cook up, and check in when they arrive at the local cinema to watch the latest movie

All part of being a kid on holidays in an age of gadgets and instant communication. 

Hit the rewind button. Press 100 years or more, and here's a snapshot of Australian kids at play in simpler times. Granted, they're younger than my own older teens, but I know you'll love  this slice of history, courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. 

All wearing hats, boys wearing ties, girls in frilly dresses, circa 1893
Children on verandah in a toy cart, pretending to be pulled along by a wooden horse, circa 1900

Girl in plaits, with six young children playing and skipping rope, circa 1910

Three young children playing in a garden, circa 1930

Blind children, boys running guided by ropes, girl skipping, children playing ring-a-rosie, circa 1912

What do you miss about being a kid on holidays? Is there something you wish your children could enjoy, from your good old days?

Enjoy the weekend,

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Family Secrets

It's with great pleasure I hand over the ink pot and pen today, to Janet Camilleri, editor of Footprints Australia Magazine. Janet's been digging into the family secrets and here's what she's found for us to ponder. 

It's amazing the things you discover when you start researching your own family history. For example, I learned that my great grandmother was christened Elizabeth Bennet. Yes really!

But this was only the start of the surprises I uncovered. 

I'd heard rumours of the same great grandmother giving birth to a baby on the wrong side of the blanket in the early days of last century. Yet when I began investigating, I realised that in actual fact, she had given birth to THREE boys out of wedlock. The eldest died aged five - the same year the second boy was born. My grandfather followed two years later. 

The next interesting tidbit was that my great grandmother didn't actually marry until my grandfather was eight years old - and she herself was 32 - surely an old maid , and with the added baggage of being a scarlet woman with two love children... a grave social sin in those days. 

Was the man she eventually married - the one I had always thought of as my great grandfather -  the biological father of her boys? Certainly her two sons bore his surname in all the records I have been able to find. And if so, why didn't he marry my great grandmother earlier and make an honest woman of her?

He was 20 years older than his wife. Was it a love match, or a marriage of convenience? Great Grandma was the youngest of many children. I can't help wondering if perhaps she was spoiled and wilful. No doubt she caused her parents despair. Was the marriage arranged with one of their friends to solve an embarrassing problem? Did she resist it for years, eventually giving in to parental and societal pressures?

And what does this mean to me as I research my family history? I mean if my grandfather is NOT the son of my great grandmother's husband... then who WERE my ancestors really?

For the writer of historical fiction, there are plenty of story ideas in your own family tree, as my example proves. Perhaps one of my little mysteries will get your creative juices going. 


Indeed, a juicy find, Janet. I love your what if questions. Am I correct in thinking your great grandmother became a mum for the first time at seventeen? If this man was the real father, you're right in wondering why he didn't marry her for another fifteen years. What do others think?

Keep us updated, Janet. We want to be the first to know any new discoveries in the life and times of your very own, Elizabeth Bennet. 


Have you unearthed a mystery in the search of yesterday's stories? Perhaps your parents have passed on whispers and tales you'd like to dust off some day. If you dare...
(photo source - the foxes burrow)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Laurie Alice Eakes

Laurie Alice Eakes used to lie in bed as a child telling herself stories so she didn’t wake anyone else up. Sometimes she shared her stories with others; thus, when she decided to be a writer, she surprised no one. Her first book won the National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency in 2007. She also teaches on-line writing courses and enjoys a speaking ministry that has taken her from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast. Laurie Alice lives in Texas with her husband, two dogs and two cats, and is learning how to make tamales.

You can learn more about Laurie Alice and her work at

Heart’s Safe Passage

All Phoebe Lee wants out of life is to practice midwifery in Loudon County, Virginia. But when she is pressed by her pregnant sister-in-law to help save her husband from an English prison during the War of 1812, Phoebe cannot refuse. The two women end up aboard a British privateer crossing the Atlantic under the command of a man with a deadly mission.

Captain Rafe Docherty promises to get Phoebe’s brother-in-law out of prison in exchange for information he holds—information Rafe needs to track down and destroy the man who killed his wife.

As Rafe plots revenge and struggles against his attraction to Phoebe, she determines to get ashore before she loses her heart and before her patient goes into labor. But an enemy in their midst threatens to end their plans, the ship, and their lives.

Welcome to Ink Dots, Laurie Alice. Where do you call home and what do you love about it? I consider Virginia home, though I don’t live there at present. It seems to encompass all the things I love—four seasons of winter, spring, autumn, and summer, with none of them severe. It has mountains and gentle hills, forests and sea. One can take advantage of the amenities of a large city, or one can find peace in the remote trails of a national park. I know what you mean about loving the four seasons. My home town, Melbourne, is known for having all four in the one day!

Why did you become an author? I had stories running around inside my head since I was a small girl. Finally, I just had to start writing them. The urge to tell stories won’t let me go. 

Why did you choose this period in history to set your story? The War of 1812 for the United States is fascinating. We were small in population, had precisely eighteen vessels in our Navy, and were up against the most powerful nation in the world, with over 1,000 ships in its Navy. Yet we believed we were right in our demand for the freedom to trade wherever and with whomever we liked and not have our men accosted and taken from our vessels. Going to war with Great Britain was foolish, and yet we won. We got everything we wanted, including Michigan, which is where I was born. This is a time period that symbolizes victory over overwhelming odds, as being redeemed through Christ is victory over the overwhelming odds of our sinful nature and death. What an interesting time in American history!

Have you been to Australia? Alas, no, I have never been to Australia, and I certainly would love to come. Members of my family and several friends have been and say only good things about it and the people. Also, Australia’s history fascinates me and always has. I love reading books about Australia, and would so love to see the land about which I have read so much. I hope you get to visit soon. I know you’ll love it. 

Here’s a peek at Laurie Alice’s Heart’s Safe Passage. If you would like the chance to win one of her books, please leave a comment below. If you’re the winner, you get to choose a Kindle or Nook version of Love’s Safe Passage, Lady in the Mist, A Necessary Deception, or the Glassblower. I’ll announce the winner on Friday. 

Heart’s Safe Passage 

“You want me to go to sea with you?” Phoebe Lee stared at her sister-in-law as though she’d sprouted whiskers and pointed ears between supper and this midnight invasion of Phoebe’s bedchamber. “In the event you’ve forgotten, we’re at war.”
“Of course I haven’t forgotten.” Pain distorted Belinda Chapman’s features, and she twisted her fingers through the fringe of her silk shawl. “If we weren’t at war, my husband wouldn’t be a prisoner in a barbaric English hulk. And I can’t free him if I can’t get to England.”
“Go to England? Free him?” Phoebe stared at her deceased husband’s sister with eyes wide and jaw sagging. “You must be—” She stopped speaking and made a circuit of the pink-flowered carpet of Belinda’s guest bedchamber, her slippers silent in the lush pile, her blood roaring. She must not tell Belinda that she had certainly become a raving mooncalf to consider traveling on water as far as Norfolk, let alone across the Atlantic.

Giddy, Giddy, Goose Flesh.

Giddy. That's me today. The kind of giddy a girl gets when she opens a big box, pushes aside the tissue paper and pulls out something special.

Squeal,  shiver... happy goose flesh. 

My blog's wearing a new dress, and doesn't Ink Dots look pretty today?

Many thanks to the wonderful Melanie from Elegant Custom Blogs for the transformation. She got me when I asked for a look to capture my love of all things writing, yesteryear and romance. She found an ink bottle to go with my name, letters and old photos for the olde worlde look... and I couldn't be happier.

Lift the lids, good people. Poke around. I'm sure I'll make amendments as the days go by, but you'll see there's a few extra pages to explore already. 

Same Dotti though. Lots of history and romance to come. And books. Lots of books.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Feathers For My Nest

The week's been dreary and the days have been short. There's no denying we have sunk into the halfway mark of our year. If I had any doubt, the number of Google hits I've received at this blog for a post I wrote a few years ago on the longest night in Australia, has surely convinced me. Not that I needed much. Sunless days, icy temperatures and a garden drained of its colour... are proof enough.

This winter my children have all upgraded to goose feather quilts. With a resounding thumbs up by all, I wish I had made the switch years ago. (Thanks to my honey-girl for convincing me.)

Now, Crabapple House offers the same comforts once considered by the French aristocracy as their home's most prized possession. Well-to-do families often willed their feather beds to heirs and passed them from generation to generation.

By the 19th century, members of the middle class could afford to make feather bedding if they plucked from their own geese. Mothers often furnished their daughter's dowry with a feather bed and held themselves with pride at the accomplishment. Anyone remember the wedding scene from Fiddler on the Roof?

Servant girls were allowed to collect from poultry they prepared for the table. They would save the down and feathers, and gradually accumulate enough to make a set of pillows before they married.

The treasured stuffing would be aired and dried before being sewn into ticks, linen or cotton bags. These would be rubbed with wax or soap to prevent the quills from poking out. Most had to be fluffed every morning to redistribute the feathers and release moisture. The English had their own method of propping them up, while the Germans hung them from balconies.

Here in Australia we call then doonas. And this week, I'm glad to leave the goose plucking to the scullery maid and buy my own ready-made. It's warmed my heart to feather the nest and keep my children happy. To see them nestled, safe and protected from the cold night.

Goose Feather Quilts at Crabapple House
More than a soft wrapping, is the assurance we are held like this by a God who lavishes himself on us. Like wings spread over bald chicks, He provides a cover no one can mess with. As well tucked as a mother's blanket, and as fierce as well forged armour.

He shall cover you with his feathers 
and under his wings shall you trust. 
His truth shall be your shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4

How do you feather your nest for those long winter nights? Do you have a favourite blanket you could never be without?


Whether you're rugged up against the wind or wriggling your toes in the sand, I wish you hours of happy reading. 

And many congratulations to Linda, the winner of this week's Ink Dots book give-away. You've won a copy of Cowgirl Trail by Susan Page Davis. 

Enjoy the weekend 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Australia's Oldest House

Who would you shadow if you could choose a famous historical figure?  My guest author of the week, Susan Page Davis, chose Captain James Cook, the 18th century navigator and cartographer. Well loved by Australians, he presides in our history books as the first European to have encountered our eastern coastline. 
I’m guessing Susan would've liked to find herself aboard one of Cook's ships as he mapped uncharted territories of the Pacific. But if she chose the day he returned to visit his parents in their home in Great Ayton, North Yorkshire, she may have found herself in the tiny cottage, now fixed to Melbourne’s own Fitzroy Gardens. 
Deconstructed brick by brick, and packed into 253 cases and 40 barrels, the cottage was bought by Russell Grimwade and donated to the people of Victoria to mark Australia’s centenary of settlement in 1934. 
Rebuilt and restored, the cottage allows us to peer into this museum and revisit a time when Australia was as fresh to the British Empire as a wet line on a new map. 

Captain Cook’s Cottage sits beside a vibrant cottage garden and while its humble size reflects the simplicity of family life in the late 1700s, it’s also clothed in the splendor of nature it once knew. For the walls and roof are wrapped in a true English vine, taken from the original building before demolition and transported along with its bricks and beams. 
I love this detail. A house of history, rebuilt to capture a previous life, centuries old, and now covered in the same emerald cape it wore in the winter of 1771. I’m glad the custodians and last owner thought to include the vine cutting. It's keept the cottage alive with something more than clay or wood. 

Hydrangeas at Crabapple House
I’ve looked for ways to incorporate the old with the new, here at Crabapple House. I’ve sunk second generation hydrangeas into the ground, which made the journey from my grandmother’s garden to my mother’s... and then my own. 
And in a silk pouch I have my granny's last roses. Pruned by me and saved, a few months after her death, on the eve of my first wedding anniversary. I dried those petals and mixed them with the rosebuds from my bridal bouquet. 

Because I love to hold onto yesteryear, and weave its shadow with the brilliance of today.
Have you taken a piece of history with you when you've relocated? Do you have a special token of yesteryear threaded through your house? 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Susan Page Davis

This week it's my pleasure to introduce Susan Page Davis, the author of forty published novels. A Maine native, she now lives in western Kentucky with her husband Jim. Susan is a past winner of the Carol Award and the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award, as well as Heartsong Presents Favorite Author of the Year. You can find Susan at 
Cowgirl Trail 

In 1884, Maggie Porter returns to the Rocking P Ranch. The sanatorium was not able to save her mother and now her father’s health is failing. When the cowboys walk off the job leaving no one to drive the cattle to market, ranch foreman Alex Bright cannot convince the men to stay. Maggie is desperate to save the ranch, and she turns to the town’s women for help. The new cowgirls must herd, rope, and drive the cattle to market. Unfortunately, some of the strikers resent their actions and want to liven up things on the cattle drive. Maggie can’t believe Alex, whom she always admired, would cause trouble for her family. Can she forgive him and accept his offer of help when trouble comes?

Welcome to Ink Dots, Susan. Tell us a little about your family. 
My husband and I live in western Kentucky, toward the middle of the U.S. We have six children and eight grandchildren. My husband is retired from news editing, and he goes over my books for me before I send them to my book editor. Wow, what a great partnership! 

What’s the main theme you wish readers to take away when they read Cowgirl Trail
This book is about trust and forgiveness. All of the main characters must learn to forgive.

If you could follow one historical person for one day and one night,
who would it be, and why? 
Captain James Cook, the famous explorer, navigator, and cartographer. I’ve always admired him and his work. Well, you have us Aussies listening now. Captain Cook's cottage sits in Melbourne’s Fitzroy Gardens. 

Speaking of Australia, have you visited our beautiful country? No, but my son spent five months there on an agricultural exchange after earning an associate’s degree in farm management. He loved it, and it made me want to visit. If I went, I would definitely want to see some of the historical sites and the wildlife. I’d love a chance to see the Great Barrier Reef and some of the Outback. You will love it, Susan. Make sure you leave heaps of time to do all the great holidaying on your list. 
What are you working on now? I just finished a proposal for another Texas Trails book, and I’m currently writing a mystery in a different series, Patchwork Mysteries, from Guideposts. This will be my fourth in that series. You’re a busy writer. I can’t wait to read your work.

Here’s a peek of Susan’s Cowgirls Trails. If you would like the chance to win your own print copy, please leave a comment below and I’ll announce the winner on Friday. Good luck and happy reading. 
From the prologue of Cowgirl Trail
“The princess wants to ride this morning. Saddle up her horse.” Jack Hubble, the ranch foreman, clapped Alex on the shoulder and walked past him into the barn.
Alex shot a glance toward the house, but the boss’s daughter hadn’t come out yet. “Uh. . .which horse?”
“Duchess, of course. Come on, I’ll show you her gear.” Jack strode into the tack room, and Alex hurried after him.
“That’s the chestnut mare out back?”
“That’s right. Here’s Miss Maggie’s saddle.” Jack laid a hand on the horn of a fancy stock saddle with tooled flowers and scrollwork on the skirts.
“She doesn’t ride sidesaddle?”
“Nah. Maggie’s been riding like a boy since she was a little kid. Her father lets her get away with it, so don’t say anything.”
Alex nodded. His own sisters rode astride around the home place, and no one thought a thing about it. Why should he expect the boss’s thirteen-year-old daughter to behave differently? But he had. Maggie Porter was a pretty girl, blond and blue-eyed. She’d looked like a china doll on Sunday morning, wearing a pink dress with gloves and a white straw bonnet when the family set out for church in the buckboard.
“Here’s Duchess’s bridle.” Jack placed it in his hand.
“Just saddle the mare and take it out to her?” Alex asked.
“Get your horse ready, too.”
Alex stared at him. “Me? You mean I’m going with her?” He’d been hired at the Rocking P less than two weeks earlier. Now wasn’t the time to argue with his foreman, but it seemed a little strange.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Book of Common Prayer

Today I rummaged in a thrift store, and for my troubles, left with a tiny treasury.

The Book of Common Prayer has floated around since the 1500s and anything that old, sitting on a shelf with a $1 price tag, must come home.

This book grabbed at the historical writer in me. It's one of the major works of English Literature and since its introduction in the sixteenth century, has wielded enormous influence on almost everything written in English. Even after many revisions, people still utter its words when they marry in traditional wedding ceremonies. With prayers for every day and season of life, many generations have carried it with them over the centuries. They've leafed through and dipped into it as often as you and I might glance at our iPhones. And if you were to stack the two in the palm of your hand, you'd find they are the same size.

The Book of Common Prayer

Imagine a time when people were born and died at home. Where life didn't veer too far from the village walls and where people stood beside their neighbour when they laboured in life and death. There are prayers in this book for all of that. For marriage, baptism and burial. Words for the penitent heart and the ministrations of the sick. Prayers of thanksgiving for the birth or adoption of children.

And then imagine those who did move beyond the boundary of home. There's a whole chapter in this book for those At Sea. As a writer of stories inspired by those who crossed oceans to fashion new lives in Australia, this chapter captured my heart. Listen for the whispered prayer a young woman sent to marry a stranger, might offer as she watches for the horizon. Or the ship's captain, as dawn breaks on yet another day.

The language is old, but the message is not diminished for me. For who hasn't lived through an uncertain journey, and longed for God to deliver them to a safe harbour?

Eternal Lord God
Who alone spreadest out the heavens,
And rulest the raging of the sea:
Who has compassed the waters with bounds
Until day and night come to an end.
Be pleased to receive into thy Almighty, 
And most gracious protection,
The person of us thy servants,
And the fleet in which we serve.
Preserve us from the dangers of the sea
And from the violence of the enemy ...
That the inhabitants of our Island,
May in peace and quietness serve thee O God,
And that we may return in safety,
To enjoy the blessings of the land,
With the fruits of our labours,
And with a thankful remembrance,
Of thy mercies, to praise and glorify
Thy holy name, through Jesus Christ
Our Lord.  Amen.

I love how this prayer ends with the desire to remember God for who He is and what He's done. There's so much encouragement in this little treasure to keep praise for Him on our lips. At every turn, morning and evening. Wherever the reader may be in time... I hope that's where you are today. Thankful and mindful.

The Book of Common Prayer in dusty blue,
atop my grandmother's Greek New Testament. 

Do you have a pre-loved antique book on the shelf? Something you're the custodian of, now it's previous owner has passed it onto you?

Here's someone who will have a new book on her shelf.  Congratulations, Rachelle Rea. You're the winner of our Ink Dots giveaway, Two Crosses by Elizabeth Musser. Happy reading and a wonderful weekend to all. 


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

With or Without Fries

My guest author this week, Elizabeth Musser, listed The Man From Snowy River as one of the reasons she fell in love with Australia. That would have been in 1982, when the movie released with a good chunk of Aussie cinema talent and a drizzle of Hollywood's elite.

I must be the only Aussie who missed seeing this movie, way back when I was a teenager and it played on the silver screen. My Beloved remembers going to the cinema with his school for a viewing, but me..? No. Sorry. I don't know what happened. I didn't see it then, and somehow, never managed it any time during the next three decades, either.

So what's a girl to do? Call a friend and arrange for a quick delivery of a dvd, that's what. With a sore shoulder from a small but colourful fall on Friday, I snuggled under blankets and muscle ointments and made my acquaintance with this famous Aussie Historical movie.

I want to add the word Romance to the description, as that's how the studios dished it up. But as the Banjo Patterson poem tells us, his Snowy River man didn't win the love of a heroine at all. That little bouquet garni of fiction was added to make the romantics happy, even if it veered from the poet's original story line.

Because a generous dollop of romance is an ingredient producers and writers know will sell. An ingredient which, if added to the recipe of a good story, with the juicy marrow of drama and a thick slice of mystery, combine to leave the audience satisfied and glad they bothered. Most times at least.

So what's your favourite historical movie? While not as old as The Man From Snowy River, my favourite is not a recent release either. It's Becoming Jane, although that too didn't stick to the real life script of Jane Austen's life, but borrowed heavily from tenuous speculation to thread a romance and broken heart into the story of the story-teller herself.

What about you? Do you have a favourite historical movie? Is it a love story, and would you have liked it less if it came without fries?

I mean... romance. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Elizabeth Musser

Elizabeth Musser, an Atlanta native and the bestselling author of The Swan House, is a novelist who writes what she calls ‘entertainment with a soul.’  Her Secrets of the Cross trilogy will be published in the Northern summer of 2012, including the long-awaited finale, Two Destinies.

For over twenty years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions work with International Teams. They presently live near Lyon, France. The Mussers have two sons and a daughter-in-law. 
To learn more about Elizabeth and her books, and to find discussion questions as well as photos of sites mentioned in the stories, please visit
Two Crosses
In late 1961 as Algeria’s war for independence from France is coming to a close, two crosses, symbolic of another time in history, draw together a host of characters in an unforgettable story of love and war, forgiveness and revenge.
Set in the south of France in the fall of 1961, Two Crosses tells the story of Gabriella Madison, the daughter of missionaries in Senegal, who spends her junior year of college in Castelnau, France. Her faith is tested when she discovers a secret from her past, falls in love, and unwittingly becomes involved in the backdrop of the Algerian War.
Welcome to Ink Dots Elizabeth. Tell us where you’re from and who you live with. Bonjour!  I’m originally from Atlanta, Georgia, in the southeast of the USA. For the past 25 years I’ve lived with my husband, Paul, in several French cities (Firminy, Montpellier, Lyon) where we have worked in ministry with the missions organization International Teams. Our two sons, Andrew and Chris, grew up in France and graduated from high school there.  Now they both live in the US.  Andrew is married to Lacy and they are expecting their first child this summer—hooray for grandparenthood! Wow, such adventures already and great ones ahead! Congratulations! 
Tell us how you came to write this book. After having lived in Montpellier, France for four years, I had heard quite a lot about the Algerian War for Independence from France (1957-1962).  However, I figured, if most Americans were like me, they knew absolutely nothing about this war (maybe they didn’t even know that Algeria was just across the Mediterranean from France).  I wanted to introduce them to another part of history, and to the unfamiliar culture of North Africa as well as the more familiar and much loved South of France. That was the background for Two Crosses. The story itself combined everything I love to read:  history, art, literature, mystery, romance, and adventure.   

If you could have lived at another time in history, what would it be? I don’t have one specific time period, but I would like to follow some of the godly saints of old, to see how they held on to faith in the midst of hard times:  the Apostle Paul, Saint Francis of Assisi, the brave Huguenots of the 17
th century, Hudson Taylor in China, George Mueller, Amy Carmichael, Catherine Marshall. Most recently, I have been challenged in my faith by reading the writings of Lilias Trotter, who spent 40 years as a missionary in Algeria in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Since my trilogy involves Algeria, I have enjoyed discovering this remarkable woman. I like comfort, so peeking into those time periods would, I’m sure, be scary, and yet, I think my faith would be renewed. She sounds fascinating. 
Have you been to Australia? I have never been to Australia, but I’ve had friends who have lived in your lovely land. I think I fell in love with Australia when I first saw The Man from Snowy River.  I’ve also heard wonderful stories of God’s work in Australia, as the founder of our mission, Kevin Dyer, is Australian and I have made many Australian friends over the years.  Love the accent!  If I ever had a chance to visit, I’d like to follow Crocodile Dundee around for awhile...or better yet, Dotti! Not sure I could show you the same Australia Croc Dundee would, but we could rustle up a few shopping adventures in Melbourne!

How has writing this book changed you? Two Crosses was my first contracted novel—first published in 1996. Having prayed for so many years that the Lord would show me if he wanted me to do something more with my writing gift, writing this novel was a huge answer to prayer and each day I sat down at my computer was like getting a hug from the Lord.  It changed my life by launching my writing career as a novelist, but more importantly, it was another instance in which the Lord showed me that His provision in His way and in His time is always best and that waiting on Him is worth it.  I am so thrilled the complete trilogy, Two Crosses, Two Testaments and Two Destinies will be released this summer!
Here’s a peek into chapter one of Elizabeth’s Two Crosses. For your chance to win a print copy, please leave a comment below and I’ll announce the winner on Friday. 
Congratulations on the release of this trilogy, Elizabeth. I look forward to hearing more about your writing journey in the days to come.
Two Crosses
September 1961
Castelnau, France

The sun rose softly on the lazy town of Castelnau in the south of France. Gabriella quietly slipped out of bed, stretched, and ran her fingers through her thick mane of red hair. The tile floor felt cool to her bare feet. Peering down from her tiny room, she watched the empty streets begin to fill with people. Mme Leclerc, her landlady, was the first to enter the boulangerie just in view down the street to buy baguettes and gros pain, the bread essential for breakfast for her three boarding students.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Don't Wait for Someday

I love beautiful things. I love to place them on the high shelf. The deep box. Behind a glass door.

I saw a new commercial on TV this week with a message I've struggled to embrace for some time.

It's an ad for Twinnings Tea, which reminds drinkers and non drinkers to stop and savour the things in life we normally save for someday.

I am guilty of saving. Of keeping special things in locked cupboards and velvet pouches for that special day when they deserve to come out.

But in saving, I've earned some losses. Days turn into years and the precious stuff I wrap in cotton wool fades into a sweet memory, and nothing more.

So, spurred on by this commercial, I dug into my cupboard yesterday and pulled out a beautiful scarf I bought a few years ago for a trip to the US. I don't know why I kept it safe so long, I guess because it made up part of my wardrobe for a special occasion (the 2010 ACFW conference) and nothing at home matched that.

Silly Dotti. I draped that cerise wrap over my shoulders and walked through the autumn leaves with my Beloved on our daily walk. No more digging into the old hat and glove box by the door for me.

Because Home is the real special occasion. 
And nothing can match that. 
With or without the tea. 

What do you have squirrelled away that should be enjoyed today? 

Here's someone who will be enjoying a great read, someday soon. Congratulations, Diana Flowers! You've won Karen Witemeyer's Short-Straw Bride. I know you will relish every word. Perhaps while you sip tea from your best china teapot and cup. 

Blessings for a wonderful weekend. 

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

What's in Your Name?

Karen Witemeyer's heroine in Short-Straw Bride is Meredith. A writing friend, also called Meredith, commented on Monday's interview to say she had never read a book with her name in it.

As I read through Karen's link with the first chapter, I noticed the heroine is also called Meri. This made me smile. I love to see how people shorten, or twist familiarity into people's names.

I've always been Dorothy, Dot or Dotti. During our courting days, a little girl in my Beloved's home church used to call me Dortha.

I like that. Dortha the Author!

She was onto something, that little chickadee.

Growing up, two brothers in my street banded together with my own dear brother, to call me Porridge. Yes, they called me gluey breakfast food, that tastes awful without sugar and berries. For no good reason, other than I hated porridge and they fell upon a 'true insult'. (Rest easy, I love porridge now.)

But how I despised being called Porridge then. And how perfectly this suited my three tormentors. The more I squirmed, the more they ran around the back yard singing, 'Porridge, Porridge.' Now I think it's funny, and I've tucked that memory away to use in a book one day for some poor girl I will place at the mercy of the boys next door.

My favourite nickname is Mama D. This is what my kids call me, as do many of their friends. It warms my heart to spread my wings over these chicks at my table as they share my food and stories.

God has many names for His loved ones. He calls us believers and saints. He calls us by name and inscribes it it in the palm of His hand. He beckons us as children and heirs.

I have redeemed you, I have called you by name. You are mine, He says of His people in Isaiah 43.

Do you have a nickname? Has someone morphed the beautiful, well-considered name your parents gave you into a quirky pet name?

Don't be shy. It couldn't be worse than Porridge.

(photo source  - the murmuring cottage)